Prime Minister Andrew Holness said the local economy has been experiencing consistent growth for almost 18 consecutive quarters.
Speaking to participants at the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation’s Strategic Leadership Retreat at Moon Palace in Ocho Rios, St Ann, on June 6, Holness said that Jamaica is seeing a return to sustainable periods of significant economic growth not witnessed in the country in years.
For the 2018 calendar year, the economy grew by 1.9 per cent.
The prime minister argued that if the economy continues to maintain this level of growth and achieves two per cent growth [for the year], then Jamaica will be on a trajectory “to its true growth potential, which is about five per cent”.
“It shows that there is a certain level of sustainability in what we [the Government] are doing, and even though we have had some shocks, we can still recover and keep growing. It is still a good sign that something right is happening within the economy to keep generating quarter after quarter growth,” Holness said.
EMPLOYMENT He noted that one of the benefits that have arisen due to these current periods of sustainable growth is employment. He said that statistics would show unemployment to be down to eight per cent and stated that this was not by accident, but a product of deliberate policies enacted by the Government.
He said the Housing, Opportunity, Production and Employment (HOPE) programme, which falls under the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, is one key area on which the Government has focused to contribute to the increase in employment.
The programme provides educational and job opportunities for persons aged 18 to 24, who are not employed or enrolled in any school or training initiatives.
“Over 10,000 youngsters are in the programme and are cycling through, that is, they have completed a year or so, and they have graduated from the programme, and a new batch is coming in. I am sure agency heads who have participated in the programme can testify to the transformative effects that the programme has had and how it has now opened up the minds of the young people who have participated, and now you are creating a workforce that is work-ready,” the prime minister said.
“So the deliberate programmes that we have put in the place, such as the HOPE programme, have done a lot to increase employment both in terms of the short-term apprenticeship-type programme and also ensuring that the labour that we have is at a level of training that they can access the employment that exists in the economy,” he added.
The Strategic Leadership Retreat is a four-day event aimed at aligning the work of the ministry with portfolio agencies, creating a greater level of synergy to deliver higher quality of work and service, and to motivating and building greater relationships with internal and external stakeholders.